Over the years, I have modified (a few times over) how I collect. I have learned that for me, it isn’t always just a doll that interests me, it is also a doll’s surroundings.
I have observed in the past decade or so that a new collecting breed has emerged. We are deboxers and display-ers. We want to be hands on with our collections. We want to enjoy and experience our collection, in the here and now. Obviously this isn’t to say that these collectors have not existed in the past, but due to increased photo sharing on the internet along with sharing on doll forums, we get a peek into the collections of various collectors and we are allowed to visually enjoy the collections of complete strangers. I have said on the forums that I am one who collects to enjoy my collection. I do not collect for future collectors. By this, I mean I do not allow myself to be chained to re-sale values for the future. There are plenty of collectors out there from whom you may one day collect a lovely NRFB doll, all pristine and pretty. It takes all kinds in our hobby. I do not criticize any collector’s way of collecting. My intent is to share how I collect. I do keep several dolls NRFB. However, I debox a majority of my dolls. I do not fall victim to every single new hot off the press release. If I like a doll, I buy it, if I don’t, I pass.
Around 2003, my collection habits started shifting, and I found the forums at Barbie Collector. It was as if the heavens opened up as the angels sang. I discovered a place where collectors shared photos of their collections and displays and dioramas. This was a language I began to understand immediately. LOVE your collection. ENJOY it. HOLD it. BUY your dolls furniture and tea sets and OOAK clothing and pets and anything else they demand that is too damned cute to pass up. Then you start adding coordinating backdrops, and it becomes a vignette. For me, I combined all of these new found elements of collecting with a love for photography, and suddenly my hobby transitioned from displaying boxed dolls to deboxing, creating scenes/dioramas/vignettes and then sharing. I want to share a photo that I posted really really early on the Barbie Bulletin Board years ago (now known as the BFC/Barbie Fan Club). Continental Holiday in Paris. This was when I was first starting to experiment with back drops. I had a framed picture of a window scene of Paris hanging on a wall at the time. Photographing Barbie with a back drop was very new to me when I took this photo. It fulfilled a creative urge. At the same time I felt a bit crazy in the head. But it was a pretty picture, so I kept moving forward with it.
For me, a vignette is a way to bring the doll to life. It tells her story. It gives her character. And it is the best way to enjoy the furniture and accessories that I know of. I have found that I actually enjoy collecting furniture and accessories as much if not more than Barbie. Miniature works of art I call them, and they speak to a gal who thought she loved doll houses but soon learned Barbie was much more fun than stuffy Victorian porcelain dolls.
Vignettes have become my favorite way for me to enjoy my collection. I have three acrylic “cubes” that I purchased from a collector over 10 years ago. I believe they were used in store displays at one time (there is a hot pink Barbie Collectibles “Applause” sticker on the back of them). They seemed so boring with only dolls in them, so I papered foam core and added a background and accessories. They were instrumental in my quest for creating charming back grounds to highlight certain dolls. You can see the “cubes” on one of my display shelves:
I found I enjoyed them so much, that I dreamed up a cabinet in which I could display more than three ideas for vignettes, as I only have three cubes. I designed it, my Dad built it, and it is one of my favorite things in the world (aside from my family!). For those that follow my Flickr page, most of these pictures are repeats. I promise I will share lots of new and interesting photos here once I move pass this introduction stage (I have a dress shop to share soon … just sayin!). I get so many questions and comments regarding the cabinet, that it inspired me to share here on my blog.
The Vignette Cabinet before I started the project:
The cubes inspired the cabinet – I modeled the shelf openings to match the cube measurements. Each cube in the Vignette Cabinet (as I refer to it) has been papered and trimmed with wood doll house molding. The idea was to feature a doll or two in each cube, along with favorite and coordinating pieces of inspirational furniture and accessories. It was a way to get cherished furniture pieces out of “prop storage”. They are all works in progress. I find myself changing out dolls and furniture all the time. So much in fact, that I cannot seem to ever get around to installing acrylic shelf fronts. My Dad made a hinged piece of trim for the cabinet front so I could install sheets of acrylic on each shelf, again, to work off of the idea of the cubes. I’ll get around to that one day. Here are some closeups of a few of the displays. These are the ones that seem to gather the most interest on my Flickr page:
I have to share the detail of the doll house paper used in this cube. It is appropriately titled “Marie Antoinette”. I have an obsession with cherubs, so I had to have it and use it in this cabinet.
So this is where my passion lies in my Barbie collection. The scenes inspire me and satisfy personal decorating ideas that I may not necessarily do within my own home. What I mean by this is that I could live in Marie Antoinette-land all day long, but by husband and children, they’re so crazy that they may not necessarily agree with this. So I create a snapshot of an idea within a small cube within my doll room’s 4 walls, and I am free to use all the blue and gold and pink and black I want!